When I was almost four years old, a day happened that altered my life forever. While innocently playing in the living room with my baby sister, several of my uncles unexpectedly dropped in. My dad, Benny, had been killed in a head-on car crash. Even though I was very young, I carry the sights, sounds and emotion of that day with amazing clarity indelibly etched in vivid snapshots. There are some things you just don't forget, Decades later, I’m still unpacking the enormous ripple effect of that tragedy.
Looking back, my life has been definitely marked by a consistent dearth of significant male attention, protection, and affection. The orphan spirit that attacked you as a child simply keeps manifesting in morphing forms. To the step-father who loves you but lacks spiritual focus, you are often an embarrassment. It's possible to have brothers and still be completely ignored. Don’t even get me started on treacherous arena of courtship. Spiritual father figures secure enough to be neither threatened by your calling nor afraid of sexual suspicion for association with you are few and far between. This spirit of bereavement relentlessly torments you until you deal with it, head on, in Jesus’ name.
The presence of a father in the life of a family cannot even be measured, except perhaps, by his absence. Spiritually, a man brings a level of covering, resource, authority and protection that is its sustaining backbone. Take that away, and it’s devastating, replaceable by nothing. Nothing, that is, except a profound visitation of Abba, our Heavenly Father and original parent.
It’s occurred to me recently, and with undeniable force, that what I experienced as a child has seriously crippled my understanding of the father heart of God. Whenever someone mentions it, something in me just skims over the platitude indifferently and spits it out. I can acknowledge it as truth without engaging at a gut level. What I preach, I may not actually be receiving. Or, at least, not with the passionate, unquestioning simplicity of a child. Don't we all simply need to feel adored? Where is the tender cherishing? Abba! Fix my brokenness!
Despite the vicious curves life continually throws at us, the enduring love of Abba is unfailing. Why can’t I lean on His big, muscular bosom the way Jesus does? He had perfect perception of the Father's supreme cherishing and the tender mercies He bestows on an everyday basis.
Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. Matthew 6:30-32
One has only to read the Gospels to comprehend the intense, symbiotic relationship the Lord had with Abba in every interaction. Even under extreme duress, the Father rose to the forefront of His thinking. When faced with his persecutors, He calmly informs them of the Father’s sovereignty to rescue Him; His supreme confidence. “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53).
The Son of God is back in his rightful honor at the side of the Father, but He’s left us an unspeakably precious legacy. This intimacy Jesus knew with Abba, even as a man, is now ours. He came to show us the Father, and He left us His union with Abba. Have you stepped into the heart of His privilege?
And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Galatians 4:6
This is not the time for dry seminary-level theology. I'm so over correctness. Save the clichés, and trotting out tradition. We’re panting for something visceral, primordial, eternal; something sublime. There is One that answers the fear and loneliness of the human heart with exquisite condescension. Give me belonging and the home I lost in Abba.
There is a day coming I will see my earthly father again. I can’t even imagine how that will feel. Until that day, I'm staying here, in your lap, Abba.
They shall come with weeping, And with supplications I will lead them. I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters, In a straight way in which they shall not stumble; For I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn. Jeremiah 31:9
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